Released in August, “This is the Mythology of Modern Death” by East Coast post-rock illusionists Thee Koukouvaya (John O’Hara, Brian Wenckebach), despite its gothy title, is an album of soaring, shimmering, sometimes sobering soundscapes that rather demands, forthwith, sole possession of the word ‘mesmerizing.’ Doesn’t matter if it sounds like ancient Sumerian drum ‘n’ bass excavated, pulled gently apart and woven back together by the genius hands of a cosmic taffy consciousness (“Anacona”) or presents as a Kraftwerk-considers-house-music, goes-back-in-time-to-invent-it-better-the-first-time workout like “Chicago Warehouse Party, 1995” or is tinged with the vibetronics of a mellow mad scientist in his sealed underwater lab like “Phantoms of the Last Age” is, the effect on the coils of the listening consoles deep within your mind will be the same: they’ll all light up in the radiant pastels of a pleasure center lost in the timely electronic mists.
Now, I realize I’m waxing all over-verbal here, bordering on some level of poetic hyperbole but what’s a guy supposed to do? The press release mentions the band as being “the conceptual aural sister city to Vilandredo, Rethymno, on the island of Crete,” which is no help at all – though they are actually from there, which only adds to the uncertainty – so I’m out here on my own (kind of nice out here, actually), so…
Consider the BBC Radiophonic Workshop gone off (or perhaps on) its meds – “40.207958.-74.041691” – resulting in a Martin Hannettized glimpse of fetching paranoic madness. Consider Eno and Roedelius basking in a programmed, sundialed heat, their lizard tongues darting, lolling, darting some more (“Prismatic Sun”). Consider the soundtrack to a state of suspended animation electrified by limitless possibility, composed in a dream state near a stone wall overlooking the Mediterranean (“The Magnetic State,” flat-out lovely). Lastly, consider an ecstasy that feeds on a highly agitated subdued-ness, balancing a snake charmer’s chalice in one hand, the cinematic equivalent of a bold wistfulness in the other, the product of which is called “A Life in a Portolan Chant” that ends the album on a note of bewitchment in its truest form.
A complete piece of work mindfully executed, This is the Mythology of Modern Death defines itself out on life’s teeming fringes where intimation is rich, innuendo riveting, where the disturbed and ecstatic mingle without either one having a hint of wariness for the other. The mood, overall, in short unadorned terms, is one of uplifting angst or something close to it, and it’s pretty great (and available here).